Guts and tragedy: the London Irish Lofting brothers

It’s not unusual for brothers to serve together in time of war but John and Harry Lofting, junior officers in the London Irish Rifles when the Second World War began, were exceptional. Their father, Henry, was a Londoner who worked for the Eastern Telegraph Company, which owned and operated telegraph links between the UK and…

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A Pictorial History, from Algeria to Austria

We shall be adding links to photographs tracking the progess of the Irish Brigade’s fighting journey from the time of their arrival in Algiers during November 1942 to the brigade’s crossing into Austria in early May 1945. These photographs are reproduced from the Imperial War Museum’s archives. The first series covering the Tunisian campaign can…

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Deserters in North Africa and Italy

On 4 February 1943, a Sergeant in the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (the Skins) was sent to Bone (now Annaba in Algeria) to collect three deserters caught trying to get a boat back to Britain. They had managed to make the 150-mile journey from the Irish Brigade’s positions in Tunisia undetected. It suggests they…

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2 LIR in North Africa, June 1943

A photograph taken in the summer of 1943 in Algeria shows twenty five officers of the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) as they prepared to join the Allied invasion of Sicily. It was a little more than six months after the Battalion had landed in Algiers as part of Operation Torch,…

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Second World War heroes who scrummed for Ireland

There was a roar of excitement for the first scrum of the Ireland versus Wales international at Belfast’s Ravenhill Stadium on the afternoon of Saturday 3rd April 1937. England had already been declared that year’s champions having successively defeated Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Ireland was playing to be runners up; Wales to avoid the wooden…

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Captain James Justin McPhillips

We received a very nice note from the daughter of Captain James McPhillips who served with the 6th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Tunisia and Italy during 1943/44, suffering wounds on two occasions. In the note to us, Angela Gawthorpe told us: “I have just watched part 5 of ‘All my Brothers’. Thank you so…

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The Irish Brigade Song Book.

We have been sent a remarkable memento of the Irish Brigade’s time in Italy. During 1944, the Brigade published a book of songs that soon became a staple musical accompaniment to their relaxed periods out of the line. On St Patrick’s Day in March 1945, the Brigade HQ hosted a social occasion to which they…

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Landings near Cassibile

At the end of July 1943, men of the Irish Brigade came ashore near Cassibile just to the south of Syracuse on the south east coast of Sicily. Brigadier Nelson Russell had arrived a few days before the main body of the Brigade and he recalled his journey from Tunisia: “A skeleton Brigade staff sailed…

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River Simeto

Simeto river crossing. After the Salso crossing, the Irish Brigade again rapidly moved forward and the afternoon of 5th August saw them attacking across the Simeto river, where the far bank was heavily defended. In fact, that single day saw the highest number of deaths for the brigade throughout all their campaigns in Tunisia and…

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